Hadwin's stellar year continues
March 13, 2017
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Adam Hadwin escapes the Snake Pit and wins the Valspar ChampionshipIn the final round of the 2017 Valspar Championship, Adam Hadwin survives Patrick Cantlay's aggressive play coming down the stretch and secures his first PGA TOUR title with a short par putt on the 72nd hole.
Welcome to the Monday Finish, where Adam Hadwin had all those north of the border cheering, including the Prime Minister, as he became the latest Canadian hero on the PGA TOUR.
Here’s five observations from the Valspar Championship where Hadwin showed grit and determination after surviving a snake bite in the Snake Pit to be victorious.
1. What a year it has been for Adam Hadwin thus far! Before taking out his first PGA TOUR title the 29-year-old already created history in January with his 13-birdie 59 at the Career Builder Challenge. He didn’t hold on to his 54-hole lead that weekend, giving it up to Hudson Swafford, but he did show tenacity in the fight. Often golfers are unfairly tarnished as someone who lost a tournament – but Hadwin had showed guts all Sunday and was just bested by another great player. He vowed to learn from the experience and yesterday was proof he certainly did. When things got tight late in the piece Hadwin refused to completely derail. His four-shot lead may have been gone but he reminded himself all he wanted was a chance down the last. Unlike in the Californian desert, he was tied for the lead on the 72nd hole, and that had to be seen as a positive. Not a negative. His composure stayed with him and despite being the one with most of the momentum, his opponent now suddenly felt the weight of pressure just enough to flinch slightly. Hadwin pounced. What else is happening for Hadwin this year? Well now he’s scored some invites to some massive events, but the number one invite on his mind is his own wedding which is less than two weeks away. It will keep him out of the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play but we can forgive him for that. He will get the chance at plenty more.
2. Heading to Sunday there was a bit of scuttlebutt surrounding the separation on the leaderboard and the potential lack of competition likely to emerge. Clearly those people do not watch the PGA TOUR often enough! While it became clear on the back nine the gorgeous Valspar trophy was likely going to one of two guys - the battle between the pair in the final group certainly provided some gripping drama. With neither having won on the PGA TOUR before it was always going to get gritty. First, we had the heavy punches thrown by Patrick Cantlay. The Canadian led by four over Cantlay with 10 holes to play only to see it halved to two after birdies on 9 and 10 from the American. Both birdied 11 and parred 12 before a critical juncture. The former world No.1 amateur Cantlay stiffed his tee shot on the par-3 13th to continue the pressure. Hadwin found the putting surface but was some 53-feet away. With the real prospect of having his lead reduced to one shot Hadwin buried the long-range birdie and made it clear he wouldn’t be lying down. It was a massive putt in a big moment and reminded me of his great 71st hole putt at the CareerBuilder Challenge when he needed a 25-foot birdie to drop to have any chance at a win. He nailed it. Both putts were clear indications Hadwin would be a winner on the TOUR sooner rather than later.
3. Don’t worry – I have not forgotten what happened soon after. Hadwin had his homelands heartrate collectively rise as he entered the Snake Pit and made a huge error. Having played the notorious three-hole finish in 2-under over the first three rounds Hadwin should have felt good with a two-shot lead. The par-4 16th has water running down the right side – the only place he could not afford to hit the ball. Of course, that’s exactly where he hit it and no manner of hard leaning could stop the inevitable splash. Minutes later he was tied for the lead after a double bogey and could have easily lost his head. This is a guy who a year earlier snapped his 7-iron against a tree. But it’s not how we get knocked down but how we respond to the knock that matters. So instead of frustration, he found calm. And it was enough to see him par home and win. His third shot on the last to gimme range, from the fringe, with the edge of his wedge, was another sign of poise under pressure. So yes, there was a big error under the gun, but Sunday had more than enough proof Hadwin can handle adversity.
4. Cantlay will no doubt rue two back nine bunker shots that were just not quite as crisp as he needed, leading to the two bogeys he carded on his way to a runner-up finish. But how can you not be impressed by his efforts. A few years back he was the next big thing in golf before injury and tragedy conspired against him (link to upshot note?). But, with some true grit and determination, he has starred down what was a seriously tough medical exemption situation – and knocked it out of the park. Four shots back with 10 to play is not an easy deficit to reel in, but he managed to do it. Five birdies in a six-hole stretch with a tournament on the line is world class in anyone’s language. Due to a pesky back injury in 2013, the former No.1-ranked amateur in the world began this season with 10 events to earn 389 FedExCup points or $624,746 to clear the top finishers from the Web.com Tour Medical category. Despite the obvious countdown clock running against him Cantlay was clearly unfazed as his solo-second place finish, worth $680,400, satisfied the requirement.
5. We have to give a shout out to some great performances outside the final group. Dominic Bozzelli’s T3 finish has us keeping an eye on another 20-something on the TOUR. The rookie bettered his 5th place at the CareerBuilder Challenge with a nice Sunday surge. Let’s not stop with the 25-year-old Bozzelli. Tony Finau (27) shot 64 Sunday to be 5th. Wesley Bryan (26) was T7. Ahhh to be young. And what about 25-yearold Monday qualifier Keith Mitchell! Leads the field in putting and is T11 on debut. And all this after needing help from his friends to ensure he had clothes for the week!
1. With the win, Hadwin collected 500 points and moved from No. 15 to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings with 1,040 points. He has made the FedExCup Playoffs in the last two seasons but never progressed beyond the second week. He also rocketed to 51st in the world rankings and 11th in the International Team standings for the Presidents Cup. Hadwin is just the second player to win on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, Web.com Tour and the PGA TOUR (Mackenzie Hughes). He will also now contest his first Masters in a few weeks’ time – just the third major of his career (U.S. Open 2011, 2013).
2. Hadwin becomes the 14th Canadian to win on the PGA TOUR, joining George Knudson, Mike Weir, Ian Leggatt, Stan Leonard, Richard Zokol, Dan Halldorson, Dave Barr, Al Balding, Jules Huot, Al Johnston, Stephen Ames, Nick Taylor and Mackenzie Hughes. (Ames and Johnston became Canadian citizens prior to winning).
3. Hadwin’s win continues the youth movement on the PGA TOUR, with 12 victories (out of 17) by players in their 20s.
4. An impressive 94% of Hadwin’s total strokes gained for the week came from his approach shot and putting performance where he ranked second and fourth respectively. Hadwin outperformed the field by over two strokes per round with his approach game (+2.045). The marks his second-best week on the PGA TOUR with his irons (2011 RBC Canadian Open ranked first for SG: Approach outperforming field by +2.095). Hadwin was dialed-in with the irons ranking inside the top 10 in several approach shot categories for the week. He hit 70.83percent of Greens in Regulation (T5), was fifth in Proximity to Hole (29’11”), third in Fairway Proximity (27’), fifth in approaches from 125-150 yards (15’7”) and seventh in approaches from 175-200 yards (26’8”).
5. Hadwin converted a field leading 422’ 11” of putts for the week including two bombs from outside of 50 feet on the weekend. He’s the first winner to convert over 400 feet of putts in a four-round event since Jordan Spieth won the 2015-16 DEAN & DELUCA converting 431 feet of putts. He is just the second winner on the PGA TOUR in the ShotLink era to convert two putts from beyond 50 feet in the same week on the way to victory. Steve Stricker was the first winner to accomplish this feat at the 2011 John Deere Classic. Hadwin’s 55’2” bomb on Saturday was the longest putt made of his PGA TOUR career.
TOP THREE VIDEOS
1. Sometimes a child just needs their Daddy. Henrik Stenson’s daughter stole the show early in the tournament.
Must See Moments
Henrik Stenson's must-see moment at Valspar
2. When your nearest competitor is in tight and coming at you with vigor you've got to make something happen.
Shot of the Day
Adam Hadwin rips off a 53-footer for the Shot of the Day
3. Tony Finau gives us a bunker lesson.
Tony Finau straight slam dunks it for birdie at Valspar